Illinois Adult Adoption: Can adults be adopted in Illinois and what is the process?

Understanding Adult Adoption in Illinois

Adoption is a legal process traditionally associated with children, but it's lesser-known that adults can also be adopted. In Illinois, adult adoption is indeed a recognized legal procedure that allows one adult to adopt another. The reasons for adult adoption may vary, including formalizing an existing parent-child relationship, securing inheritance rights, or simply solidifying a longstanding emotional bond.

The Legal Framework for Adult Adoption

Under the Adult Adoption Act of Illinois, an adult may be adopted with the same legal effect as a child. This act dictates that any person who is of legal age and of sound mind has the capacity to adopt another individual, provided that the person to be adopted is at least 18 years old and consents to the adoption.

The Process of Adopting an Adult in Illinois

The process for adult adoption in Illinois involves several steps. Firstly, a petition must be filed in the county court where the adopting parent resides. The petition should include details about the adopter and the adult to be adopted, as well as the reasons for adoption. Both parties must consent to the adoption; this is typically demonstrated through written consent.

Following the filing of the petition, a hearing will be scheduled. During this hearing, the judge will consider the motivations behind the adoption and ensure that it's in the best interest of both parties. If satisfied, the judge will issue an order of adoption, legally establishing the adopter as the parent and granting them all parental rights regarding inheritance and other legal matters.

Historical References and Examples

Adult adoption has historic roots; it was used as a means to secure lineage and inheritance rights long before modern laws were established. For example, Roman Emperor Augustus was adopted by his great-uncle Julius Caesar when he was 18, which allowed him to inherit Caesar's name and estate. Similar practices were observed in feudal Japan with the purpose of ensuring heirs for family names and businesses.


In conclusion, Illinois law permits adult adoption and provides a clear legal pathway for those seeking to formalize a parent-child relationship between adults. While less common than child adoption, it serves important legal and emotional purposes for those involved. Prospective adoptive parents should consult with an attorney specializing in family law to ensure compliance with all legal requirements and to facilitate a smooth adoption process.